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Note: The opening portion of this blog is reprinted from my quarterly column in the Neighbours of Paris on the Grand – Best Version Media

How was your Christmas season?

I hope it was wonderful and filled with local cheer!

As we look back at a wonderful Christmas season in Paris, Ontario I would like to take the opportunity provided to use this space to highlight the volunteer work done by a group that is a big part of the local cheer – our Downtown Paris BIA.

For the past year I was the council liaison for the BIA. Recently I have been appointed to several new boards and task forces and something had to give. Luckily Councillor Bell has graciously stepped in and will be a great fit with his business and relevant life experiences as well as his passion for our downtown.

That said, I’ve really appreciated the last year of being a part of this group of volunteer local-business owners doing a lot to serve the community collectively.

Over the last 12 months along with County staff the Downtown BIA have been a part of:

  • Downtown Master Plan discussions,
  • Council Walkabout Meetings,
  • Grand River St North Public Information Centres
  • OPP Town Halls Meetings,
  • Public Transit Public Information Sessions,
  • Local filming projects such as major motion pictures and national television commercials,
  • Student placements,
  • Multiple beautification processes such as our much reported on planters, flowers and seasonal decorations,
  • The booming Community Improvement Program which helps storefronts improve their frontage, accessibility and other features,
  • Downtown events such as Maple Syrup Fest, Remembrance Day and our first ever Pride celebrations,
  • Creation of a new Downtown website and so much more.

But my favourite of all is Jingle Bell night and the Christmas lights that go along with it! The evening and the lights that stay well into the season are magic but all that doesn’t happy through magic. It happens through dedicated BIA members, volunteers and supporters. I for one am grateful for what they do.

At my last meeting the BIA executive unanimously passed a resolution to work with the county on a plan to go even further and find ways to enhance the work being done. Looking forward to seeing the results!

A highlight of some of the activities I’ve attended this month beyond regular council meetings:

  • Brant Community Health Care CEO Debrief/Update
  • Food Forum Follow Up Meeting and meeting with Grand River Community Health Centre Staff
  • Attended the Homeless Encampment in Brantford with Mayor Bailey and helped to organize a warming centre with our local Labour Centre and allies
  • Community Safety and Well Being Advisory Team Meeting (named Chair)
  • Santa Clause Parade – Paris
  • Meetings with Brantford City Council Staff, Mayor and Council Members
  • Meeting with Paris Council Members to discuss strategic planning and resident needs
  • County Staff Holiday Social
  • Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant Christmas Dinner and Swearing in
  • Delivering gifts with family to Telfer Place for residents as part of a community-led volunteer initiative